Monday, March 07, 2022

Arn Anderson Makes His WTBS Debut (1981-1982)

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Time to take a look back at Georgia wrestling in 1982 and a match between a Mid-Atlantic superstar and a young kid who would one day become a superstar himself.

It was the first Georgia wrestling show of 1982, and current Mid-Atlantic star Paul Jones was making the second of two guest shots on "Georgia Championship Wrestling" for booker Ole Anderson, who was booking both the Georgia and Mid-Atlantic territories at that time.

What is more notable from a historical perspective about Jones's appearance, however, was his opponent on this show. His name was Jim Vertaroso and host Gordon Solie billed him as a power-lifting champion out of Rome, GA. What you will see is a big guy who is pretty green in the ring, but shows great promise. The longer you watch though, you will notice that the young man in the ring with Paul Jones is the future Arn Anderson. (Arn's appearance is at 12:54 in this video.)

We believe this was the week after Arn's television debut and may have been his first singles match. (Edit: Arn mentions on the debut episode of his podcast "ARN" that his recollection was his first appearance on Georgia TV was in a tag team match with partner Zeke Rivers against Bob and Brad Armstrong which aired 12/26/81.)

Virtaroso (and we're assuming that's how he would spell it) would later wrestle under his real name Marty Lunde in Southeastern, Mid-South, and Georgia, before Ole Anderson gave him the name Arn Anderson when he came back to work for him in Georgia in 1983.

Arn's look here in early 1982 is quite different as he is much heavier and with that big '70s looking mustache. In fact, he looks a lot like his son brock now who is learning the ropes in AEW. Who knew watching this show just after the New Year's celebrations were over that they were seeing a future superstar and Hall of Famer in action against "No. 1" Paul Jones.

The match with Paul Jones vs. Jim Virtaroso (Arn Anderson) is at 12:54 in this video.

The show features co-host Roddy Piper with Gordon Solie, and also includes The Masked Superstar and the Super Destroyer, Dick Slater, Stan Hansen, Dory Funk, Jr. and Terry Funk, Tommy Rich, Buzz Sawyer, Mike Jackson, and many others.

Plus, fellow belt-enthusiasts will enjoy the presentation of new National tag team title belts to reigning champions Bob and Brad Armstrong at the opening of the show. 

Edited from a post originally published October of 2016 on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway
Thanks to Kyle Rosser for additional information.